COVID-19: Schools Update

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schools update

Latest update for all schools April 3

dan barton

Dear All,

A tiring week again for all. Thank you all as ever for your continued resilience and hard work in meeting the challenge of Covid-19. Please do share my thanks across your wider staff teams, with each and every one of whom we would not be able to do what we do.

I have increasingly been thinking about recovery this week, and we are launching an Education Recovery Cell, which will be tasked with thinking about and planning for what the world will look like when the current critical stage of the epidemic is over. We’ll be in touch more about this as time goes on.

Updates today regarding exams, EHCPs and early years, please take some time to read through.


Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills
Cumbria County Council

School meal contracts

We are aware that there are many questions arising with regard to recent communications from suppliers, especially those relating to school meal provision.

Cumbria County Council has now assembled a team to explore this specific area and we will be arranging meetings with relevant suppliers in the near future.

Please hold onto any communications you may have already received from suppliers and refrain from taking any suggested action if you have not already done so. We will be back in touch with you with a further update by Wednesday April 8.

How GCSEs, AS and A levels will be awarded this summer

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) has released details for schools, colleges, students, parents and carers on how GCSEs, AS and A levels will be awarded following the cancellation of this year’s exams.

Full information can be found here.

New SEND huddle referral line set to launch on Monday

For pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) schools, colleges, other training providers and local authorities will need to consider the needs of all children and young people with an EHCP, alongside the views of their parents, and make a risk assessment for each child or young person.

For some, they will be safer in appropriate education or childcare provision. For others, they will be safer at home. They will need to consider a number of different risks to each individual, including:

  • the potential health risks to the individual from Covid-19, bearing in mind any underlying health conditions. This must be on an individual basis with advice from an appropriate health professional where required.
  • the risk to the individual if some or all elements of their EHCP cannot be delivered at all, and the risk if they cannot be delivered in the normal manner or in the usual setting.
  • the ability of the individual’s parents or home to ensure their health and care needs can be met safely. 
  • the potential impact to the individual’s wellbeing of changes to routine or the way in which provision is delivered.
  • As per social care guidance any child with additional needs that is not in school needs the same contact response.

The special educational needs and disability (SEND) Triage Huddle is an education, health and social care multi-agency response to supporting the needs of SEND pupils at this current time.

The purpose of the huddle is to:

  • offer support with risk assessing individual pupils with SEND who are attending a hub school.
  • address general SEND queries through signposting to relevant resources/guidance as appropriate.
  • allocate appropriate staff to give virtual support for known individual SEND pupils.

You can contact the SEND referral line on 0333 0150816 (from 10am – 12pm,  Monday to Friday). It is anticipated that all enquiries made to the huddle will receive a contact within 24 hours.

New early years hub set to open in Workington next week

Thank you to all of our early years providers – settings and childminders – who are continuing to care for the children of key workers across the county. We have had a lack of childcare sufficiency in the west of the county and have been working hard with the sector to find a solution to this.

As a result, we are very pleased that Learning Land, Workington have come forward to become an early years hub from next Monday (April 6). The new hub will cater for the 0-4 age group and will be open daily from 8am to 6pm.

A full list of Childcare and Learning hubs can be found here.

Future hubs

Further to my update regarding vulnerable young people earlier in the week, I am increasingly of the view that, as time goes on, demand for places will continue to rise. This being the case, we will need to think carefully as a system about how we can work together to meet this potential new demand.

My colleagues in the Learning Improvement Service will be in touch with clusters directly to discuss this in more detail.

Latest update on staying safe in a school setting

Another great video update for school staff from Andy Knox, GP and Director of Population Health, Morecambe Bay, offering the very latest advice on staying safe and protecting yourself and others while working with children in a school environment.

A reminder to complete our data collection form

Please note that, whilst the DfE data return is now live, and we will have access to this, we are aiming still to be working with our hubs schools on a Cumbria data return. This is something of a duplication, I know, but necessary. The DfE site will be feeding us information which is 24 hours out of date, and will not allow us to support and co-ordinate support for hubs in real time. We are going to launch a streamlined survey for this purpose. Please do take the time to respond to it daily if you are opening as a hub.



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